Transgender rights are at risk. Recent news from America and the United Kingdom have many trans and gender nonconfirming individuals worried about their futures.
Trans rights have been vaguely established in the UK and US which are supposed to protect us from discrimination and access to healthcare - but certain people in power have decided to take action against trans rights during a global pandemic. We're not going to let this slide cis-ter.
In this blog, we will be focusing on Liz Truss' recent statement.
Liz Truss is the Minister for Women and Equalities.
On the 22nd April 2020, Liz Truss said the following in regards to the Gender Recognition Act:
"... there are three very important principles that I will be putting place.
First of all, the protection of single-sex spaces, which is extremely important.
Secondly making sure that transgender adults are free to live their lives as they wish without fear of persecution, whilst maintaining the proper checks and balances in the system.
Finally, which is not a direct issue concerning the Gender Recognition Act, but is relevant, making sure that the under 18s are protected from decisions that they could make, that are irreversible in the future. I believe strongly that adults should have the freedom to lead their lives as they see fit, but I think it’s very important that while people are still developing their decision-making capabilities that we protect them from making those irreversible decisions. Of course some of these policies have been delayed, Chair, by the specific issues around Covid but I can assure you that alongside the Covid work, our officials continue to do those things to make them happen."
Click here to view the full transcript.
What this means for the trans community
The protection of single-sex spaces, aka bathrooms and dressing rooms.
As you can see, Liz Truss did not elaborate about this topic in this meeting, but it does suggest that people who identify as a different gender than they were assigned at birth may not be welcome in single sex spaces. Meaning trans women may not be able to use women's bathrooms.
Of course she didn't go into much detail with this statement - however, if she is inferring that single-sex spaces will not be open to gender nonconforming and trans individuals, then my concern lies not with the cis gender individuals, but with the trans/nonconforming people.
I assume you have probably heard some terrible story about a man dressing up into a dress and 'perving' on women in the girl's public bathrooms - but those cases are far and few between, and if they do happen, they are usually well documented, hence you head about them on the news.
When was the last time you heard news about a trans person being abused in public bathrooms? Probably never, because that doesn't sound like news to many people - as it happens daily.
If Liz Truss continues down this path, trans lives may be at risk. Besides - there comes a point in every trans person's life when they have to choose: the women's or men's bathroom? We usually choose the safer and more comfortable option.
The media portrays so many trans individuals to be old men dressing up in a £10 costume wig, a mini skirt and heels - strolling into women's bathrooms. But in reality, you probably don't even know if you're in the bathroom with a trans person.
Protecting children from making irreversible decisions
In other words, preventing trans youth from seeking medical treatment.
Now this is where it gets really juicy:
I hate to look at the negatives of a community or situation, but it's very important to understand that the suicide rate within the trans community (especially for those individuals who have either not fully or haven't started their transition) is extremely high.
Seeking medical help at a young age will help the child or young adult to feel more at ease with their body and gender identity. A medical transition can help alleviate gender dysphoria to some degree, which means that the trans individuals feel more comfortable in their own skin.
If we take away the transgender youth's ability to start their transition at a younger age, we may be endangering them to mental health problems.
In a way, I understand what Liz Truss is trying to suggest. Yes, we want to protect young people in our society from making the wrong decisions, but it's not the government's place to do that. That's where psychiatrists and parents/guardians step in.
I just don't see why Liz Truss has decided that this is the time to be tackling gender issues, when there are far more important thing that we should be focusing on - not least what she mentions in the same meeting.